Music and driving are closely related. There are hardly any drivers who never turn on music. 99 percent of all car drivers occasionally listen to music behind the wheel, Allianz found out in a survey, 85 percent even on every trip.
Musicians themselves have set musical monuments to driving: whether Kraftwerk with its ode to the "Autobahn," Iggy Pop with "The Passenger" to the eternal joyride, or the Beach Boys in numerous songs like "Fun, fun, fun" to cruising through the heat of California – not to mention songs like "Highway to hell" by AC/DC or "Drive my car" by the Beatles. For the past 20 years, the car has been the most popular place to listen to music. This is the finding of a 2012 U.S. Analysis that brought together all the relevant studies on cars and music.
However, experts disagree about how well listening to music is actually compatible with driving a car. There are studies that consider songs with simple melodies such as Ellie Goulding's "Love me like you do" or Ed Sheeran's "Thinking out loud" to be very suitable for driving, while complex rhythms such as in jazz or heavy metal are completely unsuitable.
One should be aware of the musical effect.
Music arouses emotions. It is therefore also plausible that drivers can be influenced both positively and negatively by the music, says Hardy Holte of the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt). "Music can have a mediating effect. In certain situations, it can support an aggressive driving style or, on the contrary, have an appeasing effect."
Everyone should be aware of this. To ensure safe driving, drivers should therefore choose music that suits the situation and their state of mind, or rather, the type of music they listen to. In no way stresses or promotes aggression.
For Hardy Holte, for example, music is only suitable for relaxation in the literal sense of the word – if there is tension beforehand. However, if you are already relaxed, you should be aware that quiet music can cause you to become tired and lethargic – in other words, it is also counterproductive for safe driving.
This is even more true if you are on a monotonous route, such as a long, straight stretch of travel.
In general: listening to music to get pumped up when tired is not a good idea while driving, says Holte. "The best thing is to stop and sleep," says the BASt expert. That's the only thing that's efficient in the long run, he says.
When music is too loud
Section 23 (1) of the German Road Traffic Regulations (StVO) stipulates that visibility and hearing must not be impaired – whether "by the occupants, animals, the load, equipment or the condition of the vehicle."How loud is already too loud, however, is not explicitly described in the process. However, drivers who cannot hear warning signals or the siren of emergency services because of the volume are committing a misdemeanor. Currently, the warning due costs the driver 10 euros.
The same goes for wearing headphones, by the way. This is also not explicitly forbidden. Section 23 (1) of the StVO also applies here. Because anyone who wears headphones in the car – whether as a headset for making phone calls or listening to music – reduces their hearing ability and risks being distracted.
Beware of distraction by devices
It's not just hearing itself that can lead to distraction, but also the operation of devices – such as when drivers change transmitters over and over while driving. In addition to cassette decks and integrated CD players, multifunction devices now also offer the opportunity to link up with MP3 players or smartphones.
Although playing music is permitted, anyone who records their cell phone while the engine is running risks fines. According to § 23 of the StVO, the operation is allowed only if "the device is neither picked up nor held," according to the wording of the rule. Distraction is dangerous. Increases the risk of accidents. Therefore: at the wheel always fingers from the cell phone. It's also best to search for music on the radio during a stop.